A roundup of the week’s top education news

The complexity of poverty…. Our childrens’ vocabularies remain woeful… Segregation is making a comeback….  Arne Duncan is revealing his “long haul” agenda…. it’s easier to keep up than catch up…. and Pedro Noguera’s Bridging Differences voice….






The many faces of poverty


Education debates constantly circle back to issues of poverty. While poverty clearly matters, the way we treat it is contested – and so this comment from Indian novelist Sonia Faleiro is refreshing, even though not explicitly related to the education debate:  “People seem to believe the poor are one-dimensional…. that they don’t lead lives as rounded and complex as those who are better off, as buoyed by dreams, as rich with plans, ideas and humor. Poverty is a wretched thing, and being poor has enormous implications on every aspect of a person’s life, but there’s much more to the average poor man or woman in India than just their poverty.”


It’s easier to keep up than catch up


Robert Pondiscio offers a cogent summary of the new ACT report showing the need to get good education to students early. “But critically,” says Pondiscio, “it must also mean a clear and focused understanding of what we mean when we say `high quality pre-k.’  Gaps in language proficiency are fundamentally gaps in knowledge and vocabulary–and the deficits are readily apparent on Day One.” (See “vocabulary” below.)

Duncan sketches his “long haul” agenda


In a series of recent speeches, Arne Duncan has begun to sketch out his plans for the next four years. “They include,” says Michele McNeil of Ed Week, “using competitive levers to improve teacher and principal quality and holding the line on initiatives he started during the president’s first term.” What he doesn’t plan to do, writes McNeil is “devote a lot of energy to a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act if Congress doesn’t get serious about rewriting the current version, the No Child Left Behind Act.”

Should non-Catholics help save Catholic schools?


According to New York Post writer Karim Camara, the answer is Yes.  “Last week’s announcement by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York that it may close another 27 schools should serve as a wake-up call for all who care about urban education across New York state,” writes Camara. “This is not just a `Catholic’ issue.”

Golden rule: vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary



“The results of the national standardized vocabulary tests are in, and the scores are troubling — but not unexpected,” says the Huffington Post. “Average performance on the U.S. Education Department’s national exams was mostly stagnant at low levels between 2009 and 2011, and the highest performers lost ground during that time.”

Trouble in Gotham: an impasse on teacher evaluations


According to the Wall Street Journal, “In unusually forceful remarks, New York City’s schools chancellor warned Wednesday that principals across the city would be forced to make painful cuts in areas such as staff size, libraries and after-school programs if a deal on teacher evaluations isn’t reached soon.”

Bridging differences: Pedro Noguera as a voice of reason


As guest blogger, Pedro Noguera brings an upbeat perspective to Ed Week’s Bridging Differences blog (which features Deborah Meier as the other half of the Difference’s duo).  This week he explains how a high-poverty, high-minority high school turned itself around.

Segregation?  Worse now than ever?


The headline over this story says it all:  “Was `Brown v. Board’ a failure?”  This Sarah Garland summary of a new Stanford study is a must-read.  “On average,” writes Garland, “those districts that stopped forcing schools to mix students by race have seen a gradual but steady–and significant–return of racial isolation, especially at the elementary level.”

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